Fred Flarsky. Remember that name. Emblazon it into the farthest recesses of your mind. At some point, you’re going to be at a cocktail party, schmoozing someone and that name will be blurted out. The mere utterance of the name will bring tears of joy and pain in the same instance.
Why am I asking you to remember that name?
Well, he’s the lead character played by Seth Rogan in the new movie, Long Shot. Directed by Jonathan Levine, who also directed Rogan in 50/50, Rogan plays the affable Flarsky. He’s a journalist at a Brooklyn rag who runs into the brick wall called “unemployment” and then courts the most powerful woman on Earth.
I’d love to tell you that the generic description that I just offered is really the entire film. Surprisingly, Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah’s script, based on Sterling’s story, doesn’t rely solely on the antics and Hijinks of Rogan’s Flarsky. He is loveable and adorable in that helpless, adolescent way. So, he turns to his friend, Lance (O’Shea Jackson) to take his mind off of his recent unemployment situation.
Before we know it, we’re introduced to Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). She happens to be the long-held secret crush of Flarsky. She is also the Secretary of State. None of their rekindled foreplay early in the film feels forced, as Rogan and Theron play off of each other really well.
Especially when he takes a spill right in front of her. Klutz.
Theron’s look is priceless, for a moment, before she regains her composure. That composure is something the remainder of the story tries to use to hold itself together. It ultimately doesn’t work as well as it should. Between Flarsky’s fluky antics and the political side of the story, which pokes fun at just about every single aspect of our currently political situation, work only to a point.
I used to be more about slapstick comedies, but the puns here were more on the nose than I could appreciate.
The story plays like an updated version of Pretty Woman or Romeo and Juliet. This reverse-role comedy, unfortunately, spends most of its time trying to bury the romance under the pretense that politics would complicate Charlotte’s political ambitions.
Rogan’s history of stoner comedies comes into play in Long Shot and its use results in a pretty hilarious sequence. The importance of the scene is one of the strongest moments in the film, but is also the weakest, as the reality of the situation stretches to the point where I found it an annoyance.
What I didn’t find an annoyance was the self-deprecating supporting cast. Bob Odenkirk plays the president and I’ll let you discover what that means for yourselves. Alexander Skarsgard plays James Steward, the Prime Minister of Canada. He has designs on Charlotte Field and isn’t afraid of putting out for her, especially his laugh. June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel are part of Charlotte’s staff and they do their utmost to support the Secretary throughout her ordeal.
Eventually, Flarsky and Charlotte come to terms as their agendas get sidetracked and they have to do what’s in their mutual best interests. That doesn’t stop them from recognizing the best parts in each other.
Long Shot reminded me of Animal House, a classic comedy that someone recently mention that it doesn’t hold up. It doesn’t have to; the spirit of its humor will last forever. That’s because it also has a legendary character name: John Blutarsky. It is just as iconic as Fred Flarsky.
So now, it might be a Long Shot, but when you’re at your next reception, utter the names Blutarsky and Flarsky and see just how many heads turn in laughter.
Long Shot tries its hardest to be a comedy. The performances really work, but the story doesn’t, suffering from on-the-nose puns and a “it’s complicated” romance.
Long Shot is now in theaters and has been rated R by the MPAA.